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Beijing to double bicycles for rent

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

08:29, July 18, 2013

A woman rents a bicycle in the Sanyuanqiao area. Beijing now offers 14,000 bikes for rent and plans to nearly double the number this year to promote eco-friendly transportation. Provided to China Daily

Beijing will nearly double its number of bicycles for rent, to 25,000 this year, with plans to add more, in an attempt to cut air pollution and traffic congestion in the city.

With private automobile ownership estimated to exceed 6 million by the end of 2016, Beijing is encouraging a higher use of two-wheeled transport to weaken, if not reverse, the dominance of automobiles in the capital, one cause of severe air pollution in many first-tier cities.

The public rental bicycle project that started in 2011 in Beijing has proved popular, with initial success seeing many of the public taking to bicycles during its two-year trial period.

"The rental service as a public welfare project has to some extent encouraged the use of public transportation in the city so far," said Zhu Haiyan, an employee of the Beijing Commission of Transport.

Like many other city dwellers, Lu Xingchi used to spend two hours daily commuting between his home and office.

What troubled him most was not the crowds and congestion he encountered each day on the subway, but the extra 2 kilometers between his home and the nearest subway station.

"It takes as much time to walk the 2 km as the 13 km riding the underground," said the 27-year-old software engineer.

The time Lu spends commuting has been cut by almost by a third with the greater allocation of public bicycles throughout the city, with one bicycle rental station in the community where Lu lives, in Chaoyang district. "Now I ride a rental bike from my community to Liangmaqiao subway station, where I return the bike and take the subway," Lu said. "You can return the bike right away and don't need to worry it will be stolen."

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